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 Rio De Janeiro

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Shore Excursion and Port Information
Contributed by
Tom Ogg

Language and Currency
What is Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Port Reviews

Language and Currency

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese and the currency is the Brazilian Real (currently 2 Real for one dollar). However, U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Be sure to have an ample supply of small bills to make exact change. Also, I would make it a point to take a basic Portuguese language translator with you. Even a few misspoken words in Portuguese will reward you with a good amount of goodwill.

What is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil like?

Rio de Janeiro as Seen From Corcovado

Rio de Janeiro is one of the world's most exciting cities. With a population exceeding 8-million, Rio offers everything one could possibly imagine. Locals will tell you that Rio by night is the World's second most exciting city, but Rio by day is the first. This isn't far from the truth. Rio's nightlife, restaurants and culture is legendary while Rio's beaches are world-class.

WARNING: Much as been said about the level of crime in Rio. While it is true that crime is rampant in Rio, it is also quite easy to avoid being a victim. Understand that with over 8 million people in a very confined area even a small percentage of petty thieves and street urchins will seem more evident than they are.

Here is how to assure that you will be victimized.

Do everything possible to look like a tourist
Wear your new gold Rolex to impress the locals
Wear your most expensive jewelry in plain sight
Hang that expensive camera around your neck
Ladies, be sure to carry that flimsy purse and have a hundred dollar bill sticking out of it
Men, wear those tennis shoes, bright shorts and you best Hawaiian shirt

All kidding aside, the best way to avoid problems is to remove the temptations. On my last visit to Rio, one guy was mugged one evening and then pick-pocketed the following evening. Just leave your valuables on the ship and carry a disposable port wallet. Be sure to hide taxi fare back to the ship in case you are robbed (highly unlikely) If you want to take a camera, purchase a small digital camera that will fit in your pocket.

While Carnival was winding down in 2006, I spent an entire evening on the back streets of Copacabana where tourist are warned not to go. All I had on was a pair of sandals, a bathing suit and a tee shirt. I partied with the locals all night in areas that I shouldn't have been. I never felt threatened or uncomfortable, however if I had been wearing my Rolex, a camera or a noticeable wallet, I guarantee you I would have had problems. Take my advice. Go ashore in Rio with only those things you can live without and are prepared to lose.

Once you have removed the temptation, you will find the people of Rio amazingly friendly, accommodating and fun.

What is the weather like?

Rio de Janeiro enjoys tropical weather year around with temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees. It can be hot and sunny. Be sure to take lots of sunscreen and wear a hat and limit your time in the direct sun based on the amount of exposure that you have had prior to arriving in Rio. Rio de Janeiro averages 4 to 5 inches of rain per month during their summer months (November through April) but is usually confined to afternoon thunder showers.

Where does the ship dock?

Docked at Porto de Rio de Janeiro

Ships dock at the main cruise ship terminal located close to downtown Rio de Janeiro. It is approximately a 20-minute taxi ride to Copacabana and the area surrounding the port is not necessarily the safest area to walk around.

Where is the shopping?

Ipanema's Shopping District is Only 1 Block Inland

The shopping starts right inside the cruise ship terminal. You will find a few souvenir shops, as well as the basic Brazilian jewelers, H. Stern and Amsterdam Sauer. There is a huge public flea market of interest to tourists at the northern end of Copacabana Beach and from there, the streets of Copacabana and Ipanema Beach are lined with stores.

What is there to buy?

You can buy just about anything you can imagine in Rio. Most folks are very interested in Brazilian gemstones and jewelry, which are abundant and difficult to miss. If you are on a mission to acquire some jewelry, visit the H. Stern kiosk in the cruise terminal and they will offer you a free shuttle to their factory. Shopping is also excellent for Brazilian bathing suits and other beach clothing and items.

What is there to do?

Statue of Jesus Christ on Corcovado

A sight that every visitor to Rio de Janeiro should not miss is Corcavado. The statue of Jesus Christ was constructed by the Catholic Church and sits some 2,200 feet above sea level and can be seen from just about every vantage point throughout the city.

Corcovado Overlooking the City of Rio de Janeiro

The best way to visit the monument is by taking a taxi early in the morning before the traffic begins. I would suggest leaving Rio at 7:30am and being at the entrance when it opens. Visits made later in the day will be met with long lines of cars and taxis taking hours to negotiate. Further the train often sells out early in the day if you elect to take the train rather than a taxi to the monument. Go early, avoid the crowds and enjoy your visit. WARNING: If you visit Corcovado during the day when it is the most crowded, pay close attention to your belongings. Do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, do not take expensive cameras and do not look like a victim.

You will pass through the Parque Nacional de Tijuca on the way to Corcovado. This is the largest national park in Brazil and at one time was a private coffee plantation. The topography, flora and fauna is breathtaking.

The View From Sugar Loaf (Note: Copacabana Beach is on the Left)

Another major tourist attraction is Sugar Loaf.

The Aerial Tram That Leads to Sugar Loaf

Sugar Loaf is a rock that juts straight up from the bay and is accessed by an aerial tram in two stages. First, you climb from the valley floor to the mountain seen above and to the left. Once there, you board another tram that climbs to the top of Sugar Loaf (seen on the right). The view is awesome. Once again, try to visit Sugar Loaf as early as possible in the morning. You will need Brazilian Real to gain entrance as neither dollars nor credit cards are accepted.

Copacabana Beach (Taken From Sugar Loaf)

Many tour guides report that the Statue of Jesus Christ resides on Sugar Loaf, however such is not the case. Corcovado and Sugar Loaf are miles apart and two distinct sights of interest.

Fabulous Copacabana Beach
(Yes, Those Are All High Rise Buildings as Far as You Can See)

For many people. Copacabana Beach and Rio de Janeiro are one and the same. The beach scene at Copacabana Beach is legendary and you will find out after just a short visit what this is so.

The North End of Copacabana Beach with Sugar Loaf in the Distance

Copacabana Beach's wide sandy beach and fun waves are just the start of its popularity. It is not uncommon to see hundreds of thousands of people on any given weekend enjoying the sun and surf here.

Copacabana Beach's Famous Boardwalk

No visit to Rio would be complete without walking the4 distance of Copacabana Beach's famous boardwalk. Made of hand laid stones into patters that are immediately recognizable as Copacabana Beach, the boardwalk and sidewalks of Copa are reflected everywhere.

More of Copa's Fabulous Sidewalks

While Copacabana shouts Rio de Janeiro, so does neighboring Ipanema Beach.

Beautiful Ipanema Beach

While not as large as Copacabana Beach, Ipanema has a charm all of its own. Ipanema is the high-rent district in Rio and its shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars reflect it. The oceanfront apartments in Ipanema sell for the highest square meter price in all of Brazil and any visit to Ipanema will be pleasant indeed. Be sure to visit Ipanema Beach for some sun and shopping.

Barra Beach (Pronounced Ba-Ha)

Further south lies Barra Beach. If you want to get away from the crowds and also have some fun surfing or body boarding, this is the place to come.

The Samba Parade at Carnival in the Sabodromo

Rio de Janeiro during Carnival is something everyone should do at lease once. The entire city shuts down and parties for days on end. It is one of the most amazing things that I have ever experienced.

Just One of the Many Samba Floats

Carnival goes on for days and is celebrated by Samba Schools competing for 1st place. Each school includes 5,000 dancers, several floats and bands. The Sabodromo is the venue for the competition and literally rocks with excitement. Hundreds of thousands of Samba fans stand on their seats and dance to the music (see the above picture)

Another Samba Float Passes By

In addition to the large schools that compete in the Sabodromo, smaller schools take to the streets throughout Rio where you can watch and participate in the festivities. All in all, it is very exciting.

Is there anything of “Don’t Miss” quality?

Yes, I would definitely give a walk along the length of Copacabana Beach this rating. Even if you are just there for a day, make it a point to walk Copa and then make your way over to Ipanema Beach, as well. You will remember it forever.

Are there any great restaurants or bars?

I found one that I liked named the Atlantico Restaurant right on Atlantico Blvd. in Copacabana. It is located across from the flea market that resides in the median of Atlantico Blvd. about 2/3rds of the way to Ipanema Beach. It has a large outside dining area and overlooks the flea market and beach in the distance. I liked it so much I went back the next day. If you are short on time and don't want to start reading menus at each of the restaurants that line Atlantico Blvd., just head here for a great lunch.

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